How to Find the Right Franchise for You

Getting into business on your own through a franchise may be your worst nightmare, or it can be the best decision and move you ever make.  The outcome can be determined before you even have a face-to-face transaction with the franchise owner.  You have to do your homework first.  An initial exploratory investigation using available technologies – the phone and Internet – will help you narrow down your choices and options.  Receive all information you gather with some skepticism.  There is a lot of false information around.  It is for you to sift through them and come up with the facts.

List down franchise opportunities that catch your interest then begin your investigation.  Use the Internet to search the good and the ugly about each franchise.  Make notes as you go.  You can find helpful such as the franchise’s reputation and costs, among other things.

Obviously, the franchise owner or his/her representatives will paint a rosy picture of the company or present the business in a positive light.  Take the time to check the data and information you get from your conversations.  Be thorough and prudent.  Ask specific questions – are you satisfied with how they answer them?

Contact franchisees and or suppliers.  They will give you an in-depth picture of the company.  Are they happy in their dealings with the company?

You may also visit your county or local agencies to find additional information.  Try the court houses to find out if the franchise has pending or past law suits, tax cases and other cases against them.  While you’re at it, ask if the franchise owner has criminal records.  Contact local business organizations such as the IFA to find out if there are any complaints against the franchise.  Search local publications for reviews.

Joel Libava at has more tips to help you determine which franchise opportunity to choose.

Search for Negative Information

Fire up your laptop, go to your favorite search engine and type in the name of the franchise you’re interested in followed by these two words: “franchise lawsuit.” If nothing interesting comes up, try using “franchisee lawsuits.”

Verify the information you’ve found. A bit of skepticism is a valuable tool for your tool belt.

When you’re using the search technique described above (and you find something that’s worth bookmarking), do just that: Bookmark it for a later date — when you’re doing deep research. That’s when you can ask the franchisees and the franchise development director about the things that you were able to find.

One more thing: If during your search you find an abundance of franchise lawsuits, things that you feel are serious red flags, don’t bookmark it for later. Voice your concerns during the first call you have with the franchise development director or franchise sales rep.

First Impressions Count

Your first contact with the franchise development or sales representative could dictate how your discovery process will go.

If your first phone call with the franchise company’s representative feels more like an interrogation than a conversation, share your feelings with your representative during the call. If the representative gets what you’re saying and cools off, it’s usually a good sign — you have someone on the other end of the phone who listens.

On the other hand, if your franchise representative cops an attitude and says something like, “we’re a busy organization, and my job is to quickly figure out if you’re qualified,” it’s definitely time for you to decide how important it is to continue your exploration of this franchise concept.

In other words, if you feel that the franchise you’re looking into could be a great match for what you want in a business of your own, try to work with this person. …

Photo by  jared